Lake Nona is one of Central Florida’s fastest growing areas. Located about 20 miles south of Downtown Orlando, the area offers plenty of date night options for couples of all interests. Lake Nona first made a name for itself as home to some of Orlando’s top medical facilities, such as Nemours Children’s Hospital and several University of Central Florida programs. But the booming diagnosis of this area quickly spread beyond business to residents and visitors! And, so, Lake Nona is contagious with recreational possibilities.
Here are four ways to date in Lake Nona:
1. For the foodie couple…
Canvas Restaurant & Market – Brunch Date
Situated in the Laureate Park Village Center of Lake Nona, the funky interior of Canvas includes floor-to-ceiling windows framing beautiful waterfront views. However, the outside patio seating is most satisfying! With a menu blending Southern and Latin flavors, you’ll relish the fresh fare at both lunch and dinner time, but this spot also dominates as a brunch date destination.
The menu includes Tiramisu French Toast topped with coffee sauce, chocolate crumble and mascarpone cream; Chilaquiles served with pork belly, roasted poblano peppers, corn tortillas, salsa roja, Cotija cheese and avocado; and the Canvas Benedict complete with housemade Canadian bacon, oven-dried tomato, a poached egg, a warm einkorn biscuit and jalapeño hollandaise. Opt for a classic mimosa or bellini, or mix it up with a Frose (rosé wine, Absolut Vodka, frosé mix) or a Strawberry Rhubarb Mule (mint, housemade strawberry-rhubarb jam, fever-tree ginger beer and Reyka Vodka).
With your bellies full, head back inside to shop the Canvas Market, a boutique space filled with local goods.
Pig Floyd’s Urban Barbakoa – Lunch Date
Pig Floyd’s uses “cultural influences combined with traditional fire, smoke and pit methods” to create scrumptious bites. While the BBQ is certainly finger-lickin’ good, this place is especially saucy because of its unique flavor combinations. For example: the Plain Jane Barbakoa made with Oakwood smoked pulled pork, fennel apple slaw and your choice of sauce served on a coconut pineapple roll (um, nothing plain about that yumminess); and Matahambre aka Hunger Killer, with Oakwood smoked brisket, chimichurri, mayo, pickled carrots, greens and a sunny side up egg served on a toasted baguette. Sandwiches, tacos, platters, bento boxes…this place has it all.
Chroma Modern Bar + Kitchen – Dinner & Drinks Date
With ambiance as delicious as the menu and the creative choices whipped up by Executive Chef Jason Bergeron, Chroma takes the cake for a dinner and drinks date night. Choose between small plates – aka date night sharables – or complete entrees while seated at a table or cozy booth. Try the Guava and Goat Cheese Flatbread topped with speck ham, marcona almonds and red sorrel; Florida Coastal Shrimp made with cilantro and chipotle-buttermilk sauce; or the Roasted Bone Marrow served with rustic bread and mustard vinaigrette.
Compliment your meal with wines-on-tap, local draft beers or housemade cocktails, or non-alcoholic hand-crafted sodas, infused lemonades and teas. Ask the bartender to mix you a Blackberry and Bubbles (lemon, Giffard Orgeat almond syrup, blackberry, Reyka Vodka, served carbonated in a bottle) or the Garden Rita (mini bell pepper, cilantro, cucumber, lemon, Cointreau Liqueur and Roca Patrón Silver Tequila).
- Urban Hibachi – Japanese flavors served via hibachi, sushi and Omakase experience.
- Bolay Restaurant – a fast-casual eatery offering superfoods bowls.
- Don Julio Mexican Grill & Tequila Bar – a rich menu of Mexican fare and cocktails. FYI, you can add blue crab or shrimp to the signature guacamole!
- Stay tuned for more details on a proposed open-air shipping container food truck park, which could be coming to the area.
2. For the sporty couple…
Now home to the United States Tennis Association and the Orlando City Soccer Club training facility, Lake Nona is earning ranks as a sports performance area. However, the best facility for a sporty date night is Drive Shack. There is so much fun to be had in this newly-opened hotspot, even if golf is not your preferred pastime. Drive Shack has 90 hitting bays with a 220-yard range and a Free Play Game Lounge with classic games like shuffleboard, skee-ball and Pac-Man.
Recharge at the full-service restaurant and bar, or take a seat in the outdoor lounge. In honor of Orlando’s dearly departed Arnold Palmer, sip on the Peachy Palmer made with Jameson Whiskey, lemonade, iced tea and a peach-flavored sweetener. Keep the golf theme going as you snack on a Bucket of Balls (meatballs) or your choice of American cuisines like sandwiches, burgers, wings and flatbreads. Drive Shack also serves brunch.
Don’t stress if your bike needs a little tune-up. The Juice Bike Share program allows you to easily grab-and-go with accessible bike rental stations, including three in Lake Nona. Lake Nona boasts 44 miles of paved and unpaved paths for you to explore. Check out this trail map.
Yoga Nona at Crescent Park
Wanna stretch beyond your standard date limits? Headed to Crescent Park in Laureate Park to practice outdoor yoga on the lawn. This weekly yoga class, held on Saturdays at 9am, is community-oriented, free and open to all skill levels. Just bring water, yoga mats, towels and your mindful intentions.
- Nona Adventure Park — a new water sports park opening in Summer 2018 with an open-water inflatable water park, wakeboard and water skiing course, outdoor climbing tower, bistro and more.
3. For the cultured couple…
Art After Dark
Orlando’s latest (and potentially greatest) “Art and Wine Stroll” happens every Friday night from 6-9pm at the Lake Nona Town Center. Art After Dark is set up between Chroma Modern Bar + Kitchen and Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine, so perhaps have a date night dinner followed by an art-filled nightcap! It’s all about music, special exhibitions, art displays and adult beverages.
Lake Nona Nights
Lake Nona exudes a community feel. Lake Nona Nights is held every Thursday evening to celebrate art, culture and fun. Bond while listening to live music, strolling hand-in-hand through a local market and feasting on food truck grub. Be sure to check out the Glass House, a unique art installation constructed of kaleidoscope-like pieces of reclaimed materials.
For a weekday date night, head to the Monday Market held at the Lake Nona YMCA every Monday from 4:30-8pm. Shop for fresh produce, honey, soaps, candles and more. Then, feast on a food truck goods. The market brings in a new truck each week, such as The Jamaican Jerk Hut, Cousins Maine Lobster, Bahama Buck's and Mitchell's Mobile Kitchen. But Gourmet Popcorn Club and Kelly's Homemade Ice Cream are there every week – sweet!
4. For the eclectic couple…
Cars & Coffee
Maybe you’re all amped up from binge-watching the Fast and the Furious franchise… well, you’re in luck. Cars & Coffee is held on first Saturday of every month from 8-11am and features exotics, euros, domestics, imports and classic cars. Even better – add this to your “do good date night” efforts because donations benefit Nemours Children’s Hospital.
Jacq & Jack
You likely tackle your personal care appointments solo, but Jacq & Jack is an upscale salon that treats couples to cuts and coffee. Ladies, get a beautiful blowout; guys, get the straight razor shave. Then, meet back up at Jacq & Jack’s espresso bar. If you assume that a salon will offer a weak coffee experience, then you don’t know Jack! They use Lineage Coffee Roasting beans, top-of-the-line equipment and skilled baristas.
Feature image credit: Art After Dark Lake Nona